In Part II, "The First Secret Of Vigilance," the children face a
puzzle. What was the gift the Stranger brought to the Land of
Poverty? How could it help rid the land of the Beast of Terror?
See if you can unravel the secret, the first of three the Sentinel of
Vigilance brings to the Land of Prosperity. (Recommended
that if you haven't yet read Part I, click this link. After
reading Part I, return to Part II.
Go to Part I of V
Go to Part II of V
Go to Part III of V
Go to Part IV of V
Go to Part V of V
Sunday--December 21, 2003—Ground Zero Plus
The Legend Of Christmas
Vigilance--Part II of V
"The First Secret Of Vigilance"
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Dec. 21, 2003 --
"No one knew how long the Beast of Holiday Terror ruled the land,"
said the Sentinel of Vigilance, sweeping his strong, calloused hand in
a wide arc over the children's transfixed faces.
It was the
second night The Sentinel of Vigilance told stories to the
It was the second
night of the StoryTelling. Earlier, as the night before, the
young ones poured into the Great Hall, deposited their boots, coats,
scarves and mittens, drank heartily of the steaming hot chocolate,
tasted of the candies and cookies, romped in the Sentinel's chair,
then took their posts in a circle awaiting his words.
"Everyone was afraid of the Beast," said the
Sentinel. "He sat on a pile of rocks in the center of the
Land of Poverty, as it was known at the time, hissing and flapping his
bat-like wings, frightening the children, the parents, grandparents
and loved ones who scooped up their children and ran into their houses
whenever he appeared."
"What did he look like, Sentinel? The
"On the day I
first saw The Beast, he had red coal eyes that burned and
hugged one another, anticipating the scary nature of the words that
would follow. "Oh, he was ever so sneaky and could
change his outward appearance but he always was very, very mean
looking. On the day I first saw him, he had red coal
eyes that burned and smoked. On cold days, steam rose from
his nostrils located at the end of a long snout twice as wide as that
of the fattest pig you have ever seen. His skin was made
of scales, heavy, thick black plates that grew patches of green, slimy
fungus and gave off a stench that made all the people put their hands
to their face."
"Ahhhhgggghhhh..." proclaimed one little
boy, standing and holding his nose. "I bet he didn't take a bath
"No," replied the Sentinel, smiling.
"He was a very bad, bad Beast. He would open his huge
wings and whip the coldest winds upon the village, even in the summer.
If a flower popped out of the ground, he would swoop down and rip it
from the earth with his long, sharp talons. He wanted no one to
be happy. He wanted only sadness and despair to rule the Land."
"He was mean. A mean
Beast!" A little girl with a red bow in her hair shook her
finger at the air. "I bet he made everyone mad, being so mean."
The Sentinel reached up and waxed his
beard with his hand, his eyes scanning the children's rapt faces.
wanted sadness and despair to rule the land..."
"Oh, he was,
Little One. He was the meanest creature on earth. He
would fly over the Land and his scales would fall like rocks from the
sky when he itched himself with his sharp claws. People
ducked and ran to avoid being hit by them. When they
went in search of wood for fires, the Beast would pop out of the trees
and yell 'Boo!' and make them run and drop their axes and saws.
And, at night, the Beast would call the wolves to come and howl and
bay at the doors of the houses. Babies cried in mother's
arms, children were afraid to shut their eyes, and mothers and fathers
bolted their doors and huddled in the cold, listening to the wolves
scratching at their doors."
"Scaring little babies!
That is awful!"
"It was," continued the Sentinel.
"There was only sadness in the sky. The sun never seemed
to shine. It was wet and damp all the time, and the chill
seemed to wrap itself around all the people like a wet old blanket.
But the Beast loved it, for people were afraid of him, intimidated by
his presence, and, worst of all complacent to challenge him for he
seemed so big and powerful over them."
"How did they make him go away?
What happened?" A boy with freckles addressed the question to
"One day a Stranger came into
the village. No one knows from where. Some say from
the North, others say from the South, still others the West and East.
He slipped past the Beast, for no one dared come to the village for
fear the Beast would hiss hot fire at them. The earth was
scorched by the Beast's breath, and anyone who tried to leave the
village never got far. It was as though the Beast could hear
everyone's footsteps, and if they started to leave, the Beast would
fly in front of them and bully them back, threatening them with his
talons and wings. So, the people were quite surprised to
see the Stranger."
"What did he look like? Was it you,
Sentinel? Was he very old with a white beard and lots of
"One day a
Stranger came into the village..."
Sentinel smiled at the young girl who posed the question.
"No, he was very young and very handsome. The people knew
immediately he was a Stranger because he was smiling and happy, and
they were all sad and frowning. And his eyes danced.
The people of the village had long since had the light in their eyes
dimmed and dulled by the Beast. The Hope and Belief they
once had that the Beast would go away had left them. They
were resigned to live their lives without the sunlight, joy and
happiness of life. The Stranger's eyes were like Christmas
trees, full of life and vigor. His eyes smiled from within."
Stranger's eyes were like Christmas trees, full of life and
maybe, Santa Clause?"
"In a way, he was, Little One.
Anyone who brings the gift of joy and happiness to children is
certainly Santa's helper. But he brought the greatest of
all gifts to the Land of Poverty."
"What was that, Sentinel?"
"He brought something that had been
lost long ago by the parents and grandparents and loved ones. He
brought them back the gift of Hope and Belief."
"Did he carry a sack with gifts wrapped
"Well," Sentinel said, wagging his finger
toward the Little One who had asked the question, "he brought three
gifts to the people, just like many others bring three gifts to people
seeking a better way of life."
"What were they? What were
they?" The children pressed forward.
"Tonight, I will tell you about only one of
them. Tomorrow night, I'll tell you about the other, and, the
next night, I'll unwrap the final present he brought. First,
what do you think was in one of the gifts he gave the people that
night to rid the land of the Beast of Terror?"
"A spear, to kill the Beast!"
"A sword to slay him!"
"Armor, so the people could fight him
without getting burned or hit by the Beast's scales!"
thrives on revenge, hate and battle..."
smiled and leaned back in the Great Chair. "No, my Little
Ones. The Beast would have liked that.
Violence begets violence, and the Beast thrives on the food of
revenge, hate and battle. The Stranger brought
something far more powerful than a sword or spear."
"What, Sentinel? What? What was
"It was a puzzle."
The Sentinel cocked his head and placed his
chin in the cup of his hand, offering the children a curious face.
"I am going to make a sentence with the Letters of Vigilance.
You try and guess what the gift was that was hidden within it.
Are you all ready?"
The Sentinel took a deep breath
as the children's anticipation grew. "The Stranger
gathered all the parents, grandparents, children, uncles, aunts,
cousins and loved ones into one of the houses. He told
them they must uncover and discover for themselves what it would take
to rid the Land of Poverty of the Beast of Terror. He took
from his knapsack a packet of letters and spread them on the floor.
Then he arranged the following sentence."
The Sentinel reached down beside the
chair and spilled onto the wooden, warm floor a bagful of letters.
He leaned down and began to arrange them into words. The
children scooted closer, peering over one another's shoulders to watch
the unveiling of the sentence. When he was finished the sentence
read: "Cee Our Unity Repels A Great Enemy."
"Do you see the answer, Little Ones?"
The little boy with freckled laughed.
"Sentinel, you goofed!"
"I did," boomed the Sentinel, smiling
as he sat upright and scratched his forehead as though he might have
"You misspelled one of the words!"
"See. You used a 'C' instead of
"Are you sure?" The Sentinel poked
his finger into his cheek and winked.
"Is Cee part of the puzzle,
Sentinel?" asked the little girl with the red ribbon glistening in her
"Look carefully. What does the
"Cee Our Unity
Repels A Great Enemy"
A hand shot up
from the shy girl who was swallowed by the fleece of the Great Chair.
"Yes, Little One?"
"It means that everyone has to work
together to get the Beast to go away!"
"Yes, that's part of the message.
But, is there something more. What was the gift the words gave
Another Little One, who had been studying
the words silently, began to jump and down. "I see it,
Sentinel. I see the gift. It's kind of hidden in the
"That's right. Everyone look at
the words again. And, if you know the answer, don't yell it out yet.
Let everyone discover the gift for themselves.
All eyes fell upon them: "Cee Our
Unity Repels A Great Enemy!"
"I see it too," shouted another Little One.
"And, I see it also," chimed yet another
"Okay," said the Sentinel. If you
know the answer, whisper it to the one next to you. Share the secret,
for the greatest gift you have is the one you give to someone who
doesn't have what you have."
Soon, the room was buzzing with
whispers. Faces beamed. The firelight danced off the
children's rosy, excited faces.
"Yes, you, Little One. Come up
and show us all what the first of the three gifts were the Stranger
gave the people."
The shy girl who had first noticed the
secret message threaded her way through arms and legs of the other
children, careful not to step on a finger or hand as she picked her
way up to the Sentinel.
"Show us all the answer."
The girl knelt before the letters and
removed the two "e's" from the word Cee, the "o" and "r" from Our, the
"n-i-t-y" from Unity, the "e-p-e-l-s" from Repels. She left the
"A" and pushed away the "r-e-a-t" from Great and the "n-e-m-y"
"C-O-U-R-A-G-E," said the shy Little
One, her Voice clear and crisp, unwavering as she spelled out the
secret. "The Stranger gave the people Courage, is that it,
"The first of
the Great Principles of Vigilance is Courage..."
One. The first of the Great Principles of Vigilance is Courage.
The people had forgotten how to have it. Courage is the sum of
individual beliefs, Little Ones. We all have some Courage,
but when we come together as one, we have an unlimited amount.
You know, when you are afraid, you can feel brave for a little while.
But, after a while, you start to feel frightened again. Well,
Courage comes in packages. When we start to feel afraid, it
means our Courage is starting to leak. Like a bucket with
a hole in it. That's why we run to our mothers or fathers or
grandmothers to feel their strong arms. We need their
Courage to help give us Courage. The more we are all
Courageous, the more Courage we all have. Courage is a well from
which we all need to draw from its strength. If you are
afraid Little One, and your brother or sister hugs you and stands with
you against your fear, do you feel more afraid or less afraid?"
"I feel less afraid, Sentinel."
"And, if all the children and all the
parents and grandparents stand together, and hold onto one another
against Fear, do you think Fear has a chance?"
"The more we
are all Courageous, the more Courage we have..."
Sentinel. Fear would be afraid of Courage if Courage stood up
"That's exactly, right, Little One.
The Land of Poverty had lost its memory. It lost the
belief in Unity, that together the parts are bigger than any Beast,
any Fear. The sentence, Cee Our Unity Repels A Great Enemy
means that if we all stand up against the Beast, he will not win.
His great fiery breath, his snorting nose, his sharp jagged teeth, his
curled talons, his fungus-laden scales, his dark shadow over us, will
be repelled. It will be pushed away. But only
if we call upon our Courage. If we ask for at least One Percent
more Courage within us than the Fear of things outside or inside us,
we can defeat the Beast of Terror. We can drive him from our
Land of Poverty and turn it into a Land of Prosperity."
The freckled boy raised his
itself did not drive the Beast away..."
Courage drive the Beast away, Sentinel? When the people
remembered that gift of Courage the Stranger brought, did the Beast
"No," the Sentinel said.
"There were two more gifts yet to be given that would insure the Beast
would be banished. Courage was only the first of the three."
"What were the other two?"
the Sentinel. "That will come tomorrow. But, for
tonight, when you go home and dream, dream about Courage. Dream
about how all of you, all of us, together, can be so much stronger
than we can by ourselves. Dream of how your Courage comes
from within, and its power and strength depends on others sharing your
"We will, Sentinel. We
"And tomorrow, we'll learn
about the second gift from the Stranger."
"Will it be a puzzle too?"
asked the Shy One.
"We'll see," said the Sentinel.
Go to Part III
(For print-friendly version if Part II, click here)